340-ton boulder makes 1st stop on way to LA museum

February 28, 2012 10:00:00 PM PST
A 340-ton granite boulder made its first stop on Wednesday along its journey from Riverside to a new exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Crews moving the nearly 22-foot-tall rock were very anxious about a hairpin turn that had to be made overnight by the truck hauling it. It took crews about 1 1/2 hours to navigate the sharp turn at Granite Hill and Country Village Road.

The rock made it to its first scheduled destination at Mission Boulevard and Bellegrave Avenue at Glen Avon at about 3 a.m. Wednesday.

The rock began its journey at Granite Hill and Pyrite Street at around 11 p.m. on Tuesday. Officials say the complete trip is estimated to take about 11 days. A crowd of onlookers gathered to give the rock a grand sendoff.

"I think it's just absolutely amazing. The size of it is unbelievable. How they're going to move it and how long it's going to take, it's just a great thing to see them do," said Riverside resident Karen Rowley.

The 105-mile journey will end at LACMA's backyard where it will be the centerpiece of artist Michael Heizer's "Levitated Mass" exhibit. The rock will appear to float above the heads of visitors as they walk underneath it. The granite is expected to arrive at LACMA March 10. Museum officials hope to have the exhibit open by late spring or early summer.

The boulder was discovered in 2006 when it was blasted from the Jurupa Quarry in Riverside County. LACMA officials have been trying to acquire the permits necessary to move it ever since then. About $10 million in donations later, the boulder is now on its way to the museum.

The rock will be crossing four counties and 22 cities as it travels during the late night and early morning hours, mostly between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. California Highway Patrol officers and power company personnel are part of a large entourage guiding the rock. They will be disassembling traffic signals and power lines throughout the process and putting everything back up before morning commuters hit the streets.